Our History

The origins of the Centre are shrouded in myth, legend, and bad weather. They may lie in a conversation between John Dryzek and Simon Niemeyer in 2004, when they were sheltering for two  days under a rock, waiting for the rain to stop so they could climb a mountain in New Zealand. This led to their Australian Research Council (ARC) funded Discovery Project on ‘The Micro politics of Deliberation’. However, there is a pre-history in the former Social and Political Theory Program at Australian National University (ANU), where Dryzek was a Professor and Niemeyer did his PhD (as

did Carolyn Hendriks, John Parkinson, and Bora Kanra in the early 2000s), and deliberative democracy was the lingua franca of the Program (as Bob Good in, who did work in the area himself, put it)

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Shrouded in myth, legend, and bad weather

The first hints of an actual Centre came with the mention in 2005 of a ‘Centre for Deliberative Governance’ on the Research School of Social Sciences (RSSS) website, though no such Centre could be found on any organisation chart, and indeed it never would be at ANU. In the mid-late 2000s, PhD students working with us included Louise Clery, Katherine Curchin, Selen Ercan, and Melissa Lovell.

 

2008 was an important year. The Centre’s staff and students organised a conference at the ANUentitled‘Dialogue across Difference.’ This was also the year Dryzek received the important award of an ARC Federation Fellowship to Dryzek. This Fellowship was crucially co-sponsored by the Department of International Relations in the Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies (along with RSSS), and that is how the ‘Global Governance’ in the Centre’s title came to be. For the first time the Centre had its own suite of eight rooms in the Coombs Building, populated in subsequent years by Dryzek, Niemeyer, postdoctoral research fellows Luisa Batalha, Nicole Curato, Bora Kanra, HayleyStevenson, Beibei Tang, and PhD students John Boswell, Maria (Weng) Dano, Andrea Felicetti, Sergio Guillen, Jonathan Kuyper, Penelope Marshall (with Alex Lo and Mani Banjade dropping in occasionally) and research assistants Alessandra Pecci, Elaine dos Santos, and Juliana Rocha, and numerous visitors including Tetsuki Tamura (Nagoya University) and Anne Phillips (LSE), among others. It was in that era that our seminar series, annual conferences, and weekly morning teas began, and resources flowed in from ARC grants and a Future Fellowship to Niemeyer for his work on scaling up deliberation.

 

2013 was a low point as funding ebbed, our lease on the rooms expired, and we were reorganized into the School of Politics and International Relations at ANU. In 2014 we moved to what was then the Australia and New Zealand School of Government Institute for Governance (ANZSIG) at the University of Canberra (UC), though by then we were down to Dryzek, Niemeyer, Curato on a grant-funded contract, and Rocha with similarly short-term funding. Selen Ercan had already established a bridge head for the Centre at UC, where she had been appointed as a postdoctoral research fellow in2012.

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Our tradition of Tuesday morning tea

In our first year at UC, we secured a series of ARC awards and research grants including the ARC Laureate Fellowship (Dryzek), Discovery Early Career Research Award Fellowship (Curato), and two Discovery Projects (Ercan, Dryzek et al; Niemeyer, Dryzek and Curato et al). These projects enabled us to create a vibrant research environment and re-establish the Centre in a serious (but still informal) way, with seminar series, morning teas, annual conferences, reading group, numerous joint projects, and (beginning in 2015 and organized by Curato) a summer school which became our flagship event.

 

Our first PhD completion in our new home was Kei Nishiyama, followed by Emerson Sanchez and Pierrick Chalaye. Our numbers have steadily grown, including postdoctoral research fellows Jonathan Pickering, Ana Tanasoca, Jensen Sass, Quinlan Bowman, Hedda Ransan-Cooper, Sonya Duus, Hannah Barrowman, Lucy Parry, Francesco Veri, Hans Asenbaum, and Nick Vlahos. In 2019 our bid for strategic funding from UC was successful, and so in 2020 our existence as a Centre (within the Institute for Governance and Policy Analysis, itself within the Faculty of Business, Government, and Law) was formalized for the first time, with John Dryzek as Director, though he was soon succeeded by Simon Niemeyer. This formalization also entailed our first serious involvement in under graduate teaching with Nicole Curato, Selen Ercan, Hans Asenbaum and Nick Vlahos beginning to convene the Centre’s undergraduate unit ‘Investigating and Explaining Society’ in the Faculty of Business Government and Law.

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Centre’s Annual Portrait in 2018

In our time at UC, we have gone from strength to strength in terms of books, articles, prizes, grant income, and academic visitors. But more important has been the consolidation of an intellectual community known for its high standards, cooperative ethos, multi-nationalism, centrality in the global network in our field, and no-divas policy.